Experian Marketing Services Jumps Into The Clouds

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MattSeeleyExperian Marketing Services is getting in the Marketing Cloud game. Or, at least the Marketing Suite game. The company will roll out an end-to-end marketing platform designed to tackle marketer pain points around multi-device identity linkage, cross-channel campaign management and business intelligence. Experian Marketing Services will announce this development during its annual Client Services Summit in Las Vegas on Thursday.

Although this unifies acquired assets like Conversen and AdTruth – Experian Marketing Services group president Matt Seeley said individual point solutions such as Email Insights or campaign management are still available as standalone tools.

“Over the last year, we’ve been doing a lot to try to bring all of those elements together,” Seeley said. “Some are newer, such as the ability to do email validation, but some are older like the ability to use referential data to increase the accuracy of your record before it gets into any kind of data repository.”

AdExchanger: Is this Experian’s entry into the Marketing Cloud space?

MATT SEELEY: Sort of, yes. The word “cloud” might be the most overused vernacular ever. I always think about how we view what’s needed in the marketplace and as we launch our Marketing Suite, the easiest way to explain it is we find there’s vast amounts of information out there and everybody’s been very channel-focused for many years. There’s not enough persistency in saying, “Can I, with very real clarity, say this is [the same person] cross-channel.”

How do you define persistency?

Maybe I have a cell phone number and an address, but can we help the client put that together in a holistic way and say, “Yes, this email address is [tied to] this terrestrial address [or this] phone number?” Our matching technologies to do that are extremely sophisticated. We’ve been doing that for a long, long time in direct mail. In direct mail, the core competency is you have to get that address right every time and you can’t send catalogs to the wrong address because it’s expensive.

Essentially what we’ve done is evolve that into the digital world, take those matching technologies and accuracy and apply it into other things – the ability to append a Facebook ID, a Twitter handle, an email address. We have an incredible amount of referential data to pull from to increase the accuracy. That’s where that persistency starts. We’re an original source and compiler of data – we know age, income, attitudes, demographic and once we clean that profile up, we’re saying, “Let’s enhance it and say, “What motivates you to buy?” It’s creating a very relevant, consistent profile of the customer.

What about cross-device?

We’re carrying these devices in our pockets, but most of our customers don’t really know “it’s me.” I can be your best customer in-store and you’re serving me ads on this phone that do not recognize I’m your best customer. It’s that cross-ID problem and we acquired AdTruth (via 41st Parameter) to solve some of that because it’s got to be a probabilistic ID, which is privacy compliant and it is the best means outside of cookie to identify that device.

When you think about the Marketing Suite concept, we’re saying there’s a persistent ID and a lot of information can get appended to that. There’s a probabilistic ID that says there’s a high likelihood that’s that person. And getting that profile set up is the beginning of that journey. When I hear a lot about the clouds, I don’t hear a lot about how they’re helping their customer create an incredibly relevant experience cross-channel. They’re not helping with the first piece, which is giving a real clean look so you’re engaging the customer properly. This benefits the customer, too.

Would you say AdTruth and the analytics you’ve applied are your data management platform?

I don’t think so. I would describe our vision for AdTruth – we see all clients having to solve the same problem in terms of consistency and communication. One of the big hurdles is can I identify with clarity my consumer on the device and actually help solve that linkage and identity problem in a big way. What we believe is over time, there will not be one single identifier. There will be multiple. [Companies] want something that’s generally more neutral and they want something that can help them target their audience in an accurate manner and we believe AdTruth can be that sort of neutral ID that allows many to use it in their best interest. We don’t see it as the DMP.

We do have initiatives in that arena that are separate. We see this more as a common linkage tool that many can use and benefits all by having a common language in terms of an identity.

Did the Conversen acquisition form the basis of your cross-channel platform, similar to what Oracle did with Responsys and Adobe, Neolane?

That’s exactly right. We did that with intent because we realize we’re one of the world’s largest emailers and our CheetahMail application is one of the strongest list-based applications out there. But no different than Responsys or ExactTarget, we realized it’s list-based and we believe the future of cross-channel is not data riding off of an email list-based platform, but tying together a data-agnostic platform that’s channel neutral. Conversen was built by people who get it, so they gave us about a two to three year head start, we acquired it and what we did over the last couple of years is amp it up and scale it. It is absolutely the basis of our cross-channel.

What are the integration challenges?

I think when it comes to integration, you can buy a lot of companies and wrap it in with some product marketing, but you actually have to do the hard work of bringing the tools together and I think that’s a people issue. We’ve started to do that at Marketing Services, and we are guilty of silos as well. A lot of that comes down to the group emotionally investing themselves in the greater good of what we’re trying to do. Once you get over that hump, it gets easier and easier for the product teams to work toward that common goal. We’ve learned our lesson, but I think the people issue is the toughest challenge in getting to that integration.

What are you lacking?

What I hear from clients and what we need to continue to expand is in the display space. The client problem I hear is, “I may send a communication via email or SMS and I’m either not getting engagement or I may be getting engagement and I want a more real-time correlation between that campaigning in those channels and display.” That’s a place [to grow] because you have to link to the customer and make sure via the cookie or any aspect to find that customer in the same way. It’s not an easy challenge because you certainly have to have high-quality linkage inventory and your systems very well linked in terms of serving a display ad.

What will Experian Marketing Services bring to the table that others don’t?

In this cluttered world of clouds, it’s clear a lot of the large guys have come in and recognized what we already do and where the dollars are going. Where we differentiate ourselves is that identity component combined with the enhancement of data. The ultimate goal here is to create a relevant and incredibly engaging experience in any channel with a customer and it starts with data. Because that is our roots and we have the ability to link it, our weapon is the ability to understand the consumer at a deeper level and we also have the attitudinal components to say, “This is how [they] want to be spoken to.” Everybody is focused on the marketing technology as well as us and I’m excited about what we bring in that scenario.

How will you price this and pursue sell-in?

We’re still in the early days. We do have a couple of clients who are on it and all of the products themselves are healthy and productized. We’re not quite where I can give you a concrete in terms of pricing CPMs to licensing, but we’re literally with our product marketing teams trying to vet that and figure out what is the best pricing model for the customer, but we will have more to come on that.

 

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